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December 8th, 2012


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12:12 pm - Seven Psychopaths
This is why I have kept off livejournal, because once I start I can't stop posting. Damn. I haven't written one economically productive word this morning.

I went to see Seven Psychopaths, which is a film by the same guy who wrote and directed In Bruges. It is a great film. It's a comedy, but with quite a lot of violence in it, including against women. I feel I need to say that upfront, because some people might not want to see it for that reason.

It is a writerly film, with Colin Farrell as the writer's idealised alter ego, who is struggling to write the script to 'Seven Psychopaths'. I know self-referential films like that can be shit, but this one is good. It is clever and charismatic enough to carry through that dodgy premise. As well as Farrell it has Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson who are all funny and compelling.

I think the reduction of women to victimhood is a significant flaw in the film, and the authorial character being told off by Christopher Walken about it does not get him off the hook IMHO. Nevertheless I think it is one of the best films I have seen this year.

Films I would compare it to, apart from In Bruges of course, are Pulp Fiction and Big Lebowski and Repo Man. I wouldn't say it was as good as any of those, which are among my all-time best films, but it is good and within that intelligent dark comedy genre.

ETA Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian: wrong again about a genre film. He's a good critic but I think he lacks instinct in spotting the gold in mainstream films.

And back in September's Guardian Catherine Shoard gave it four stars:
Witty and inventive, cracklingly obscene and sheep-dunk bracing. And it suffers some of the same short-burn as a Tarantino flick, vividly impressive at the time, but all fireworks and no Aga, a film whose parts might be more than its sum. There are scenes of complete brilliance, Walken is better than he's been in years, cute plot loops and grace notes. Yet it doesn't quite cohere.

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Comments:


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From:azdak
Date:December 8th, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for this! I was going to go and see it anyway because I Have Faith in Martin Mcdonagh, but the trailer was really uninspiring, so I'm glad to hear the film is good.
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From:communicator
Date:December 8th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
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Hope you agree with my opinion! It made me laugh, and the camerawork was very seductive. It's better than the trailer.
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From:azdak
Date:December 20th, 2012 10:41 am (UTC)
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I've seen it now and found it entertaining and marvellously acted(I agree with Shoard about Walken, I couldn't take my eyes off him) but, given what Mcdonagh's capable of, oddly shallow. It struck me as being very much what an influential theatre critic (wrongly) accused The Pillowman of being, namely storytelling for the sake of storytelling. In Bruges is about redemption and The Pillowman is about the moral function of art, but Seven Psychopaths isn't really about anything (thinking it over I wonder if maybe it was meant to be about love, given that Marty says that this is what he wants to write about, and that he and Billy end up saying that they love each other, but it remains just the outline sketch of a possiblilty with no substance to it, like the characters). I'd love to hear alternative views, though.

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From:nineveh_uk
Date:December 9th, 2012 08:53 am (UTC)
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I think that Peter Bradshaw doesn't so much have a problem in spotting the gold in genre films (he gave Attack of the Clones rather too much credit...), as in spotting the gold in a film that he doesn't personally care for, or indeed the bad in one that he likes. Occasionally he overcomes this (for "Twilight"!), but it's definitely a Bradshaw thing.
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From:communicator
Date:December 9th, 2012 08:59 am (UTC)
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Yes, I know what you mean. I suppose I think of his Achilles heel as 'genre' because I remember him getting Fellowship of the Ring wrong. I mean, it isn't the greatest film ever but I think it clearly had massive impact.
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From:nineveh_uk
Date:December 9th, 2012 09:18 am (UTC)
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Oh yes, that Fellowship review... You're probably right that he's worse on 'genre' because there's more of it he doesn't understand, but he be wrong on anything. Actually, that makes your theory work, because 'genre' can be defined as "anything that isn't aimed a my sort of middle-aged man". He gave Mamma Mia one star. It's true that MM is not a great film, but there is a lot in it that many people enjoyed, a lot more to it than Bradshaw's review, and he couldn't see any of it. I have seen him give equivalent films aimed at men rather than women 3/4 stars.
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From:ninebelow
Date:December 9th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
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Clever and charismatic but I couldn't get passed the dodgy bits. I had a persistent feeling throughout that McDonagh wanted a pat on the back for being aware of its problems without wanting to fully confront them. AS you say, Walken's line isn't a get out of jail free card. I'm much more in the Bradshaw camp (and thought Rockwell was miscast).
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From:communicator
Date:December 12th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
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I do quite adore Sam Rockwell. I suppose the casting against type was to trick us. It certainly worked on me. But yeah, agreed that he needs to Try Harder on writing female characters who can tring two sentences together.
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From:ajr
Date:December 14th, 2012 01:05 am (UTC)
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"Pete Bradshaw in the Guardian: wrong again about a genre film. He's a good critic..."

Is he, really? I can't say I've ever been terribly impressed by any of his film reviews. The one that stands out as being his nadir was when he absolutely slated Drive, but based his review around fundamentally misunderstanding a plot point. It was such an egregious error he had to post a follow-up on the Guardian website (I don't know if it appeared in the paper too) in which he admitted he made an error, but didn't actually revaluate the film from the corrected viewpoint. As a result, I now always find his judgment to be hugely suspect.

Still, at least he's no Christopher Tookey.
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From:communicator
Date:December 14th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
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I just read up about that, and see what you mean about the error. I still put it down to genre-blindness, but I will put my sceptical hat on a bit more firmly.

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